Your Child Development Questions Answered

  1. What age should a baby feed them self with a spoon? / What age should you let them try eating with a spoon? / What age should my LO be able to use a spoon or cutlery to feed themselves?

Baby is likely to want to imitate what she sees happening around her at meals times and, of course, experimenting with a spoon is great fun. You might even see your baby attempting to feed Teddy with a spoon. However, mastering the act of steering that spoon all the way from a bowl to the mouth is a great challenge and may not be anywhere near successful until they are about 18 months. When they start reaching for that spoon – then you can be sure that they want to have a go for themselves with a soft-tipped and shallow spoon. The important issue around the use of a spoon is that it offers baby the opportunity to take a little more control of their own lives and that is very empowering for them.


  1. Should we ignore when LO throws food on the floor or tell her no (which risks making it a bigger deal)?

This is harder than it sounds but… do try to stay calm as babies love attention – negative or positive! Using the same words when it happens is a great idea (soothing as a strategy for adults too) – something like s-l-o-w-l-y saying – ‘food-stays-on-the-table’. Then, if it’s thrown – simply remove it. That way, they know it’s not a game to be repeated. In many ways, baby is just experimenting (they are great scientists) they want to know what happens when something drops or is thrown – for example, will it reappear? So, if the food is not returned – they get their scientific answer given to them fairly swiftly! A washable mat on the floor nearby saves frustration for you too.


  1. My 6 month old is starting to be able to sit up but hasn’t rolled over, is this OK?

Babies seem to have their own individual timetables of when they will or will not do things and often don’t follow the schedules of development that experts talk about! Sometimes, they skip a move that we have been waiting for and… go straight for the next one. The most important thing is that progress is being made and that baby is enjoying learning new skills and is having wonderful experiences that encourage their development. It’s all about encouraging baby to be curious about their surroundings –and that’s such a motivation to get those muscles moving and coordinating their bodies to make the next move.


  1. How can I stop my three year old getting physically aggressive when I’m not around?

When a child is feeling the need to be aggressive there is usually a reason – taking time to think about what might cause this negative behaviour and what has occurred (just before it happens) is a good start. It’s rather like being a detective – try to unlock the reason why before addressing the behaviour.

Once you’ve understood the reasons (which could range from jealousy, hunger to frustration) and you’ve attempted to address those issues – then, there are a few ways to lesson the chances of your child being aggressive when you are not around. For example, when you go to a playground – talk to your child about how the other children are behaving – pointing out when they are being kind, helping someone, sharing– etc. Obviously, comment on how wonderful that kind of behaviour is! Then, when your child is not with you – they are more likely to repeat what has been reinforced by you.


  1. When dealing with a fussy toddler, how should I approach meal times?


Here are a few top tips: Eating together as a family (with the same food) can neutralise the intensity of any food refusal (your toddler will see others just getting on with the business of eating what’s on the plate and may well fall in line!). Small portions of new foods are best (it can feel overwhelming to be a faced by a mound of food) and it takes around 12 times to accept any new taste. So, introducing one new food at a time is best. Keep a check on your own anxiety – it can negatively impact the situation – it’s amazing how toddlers pick up on how adults feel. Try finger foods – as they are a great way for your toddler to feel that little bit more independent and pop a few nutritious mouthfuls into his mouth. Getting creative with how food looks on the plate can work wonders. Try faces, animal shapes –anything to make you both smile.


  1. My 6month old is really distracted when I’m trying to give her food. Do you have any tips to help?

Six month olds are hard-wired to look out for novel and interesting events that are happening around them. That’s the way they learn. So, it’s unsurprising that when food is being offered…there may well be more interesting things to capture her attention. A few practical tips: find somewhere that is perhaps dimly lit, let her take a good look around before attempting to give her food (that might satisfy her curiosity) and face her (babies love faces – it continues to be one of the most fascinating toys on the planet). Of course, baby may soon be ready for finger foods– that way they get to have some control (and something positive to focus on). And, what’s more…they get to practice the wondrous pincer grip (perfect for picking up food with greater expertise).


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